Monday, December 3, 2007

Anandpur Sahib

Seldom do I remember waking up in such peace as I did today. Specially when traveling I’m in a hyperactive mode. While traveling I always wake up with an ever hungry restlessness to see more of the place I traveling to. Somehow things went wrong this time. Woke up early in the morning, and was sure a morning can’t be anymore relaxing. That’s the way every morning begins in Anandpur Sahib.

The entire town is submerged in the soft and peaceful verses of gurbaani. The sounds are so relaxing and yet so powerful that I prefer staying back in the bed and keep listening to it as long I can. After an hour or so the sun broke the silence of the sound as the fog lifted, so did the dream like effect.

A small town in Punjab. Not on the mountains yet not on the plains. On the foothills of the shivalik range lies the second most holiest place for the Sikhs “Anandpur Sahib”.

Not often do we see places so welcoming as this. The entire town is as welcoming as the gurudwaras they house. The place reflects nothing but brotherhood and friendliness. Though the history of the place has enough bloodshed and wars.

Over three hundred years ago the teachings of the sikh gurus and the tortures of the mughals gave birth to the KHALSA. The warrior saints took the initiative to fight against the mughals empire. In today’s situation it may be hard to understand how the saints took such a drastic step to fight the wars. Not just fight, but they were one of the strongest force against the mughals. At the same time they strongly followed the philosophy of brotherhood, community welfare and equality (which makes them stand so strong till date).

As the religion can be seen having a soft core and a hard outer shell, so does the gurudwaras of Anandpur Sahib like no other gurudwaras (atleast as much as I have seen). Over here the gurudwaras are inside forts. The place of worship is strong enough a defence for its people in the times of battle.

The moment you see the fort-gurudwaras you’ll understand the reason why the saints had to lead the army.

Well those are the realities of the past. Times have changed so have Punjab, not one of the most progressive states.

Anandpur Sahib is back to a state peace and harmony. The way the gurus would have wanted it to be in the first place.

A small town, which gives a clean white image when seen from a hilltop. White and clean like the marble floors of the gurudwaras.

Every gurudwara over here has its own history. Regardless of the size of the gurudwara its history is none the less important. Few of them I visited where Anandgarh Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Kesgarh Sahib, Shishganj Sahib.

It’s a great feeling to sit in the courtyard of one of these gurudwara’s in the early winter mornings with a handful of hot prashad.

A guest in Anandpur will never go hungry as there is huge hall near Kesgarh Sahib which keeps serving “langar” whole day long. Mostly it’s a vegetarian town, still you can manage to get non-veg at the dhaba’s near the bus-stop. I tried some good mutton curry at the Pahalwan Dhaaba near the chowk across the bridge. Parathas, lassis, mithais are to be found in abundance.

Did some souvenir shopping on the street near Kesgarh Sahib. Here one can find all sorts of knives, small khukri’s to large swords, simple India traditional knives to modern Rambo knives. You name and you get it in this small market. Lots of CD’s and books related to Sikhism can be bought from these shops. Pendants, bracelets and other knickknacks are also available here.

Staying in Anandpur is not a problem Gurudwaras provide comfortable lodging. Or else there are some decent yet cheap hotel options. For just five hundred rupees I found a good place called the "Kisan Haveli", the room was large attached with a large loo, fixed with a geyser and 24hrs water supply, room service was okay, good veg food and a beautiful view of the city from the attached balcony.

Mine was a real short stay as I had no plans as where to go when I left home a day before. All I wanted was to drive and spend a weekend somewhere. But surely next time I want to wakeup without restlessness in my mind, there is Anandpur Sahib for me.

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